Introduction The alarming increase in the population because of the stationary birth rates and the ever lowering death rates of the countries brought about by the economical an social development has imposed a need to lower the birth rates. There are also certain social stigmas which are to be overcome to reduce the birth rates for e.g. till recently in certain parts of the world the birth control pills were not socially accepted. But since their introduction they have placed themselves into a commanding position into one’s family life.
History of birth control pills The term birth control pill is usually referred to the group of drugs used by females to avoid pregnancy. In 1955 a couple of scientists, introduced the concept of birth control pills when they used progestins for birth control. Before that people used to try things like condoms, diaphragms, sponges and even avoiding sexual intercourse at the time of the fertile period. The latter had its disadvantages with its efficiency being very low as compared with the former ones. Later it was also found that adding estrogens made them more efficient.
Types of birth control pills Because of the great success and the increased demand of the birth control pills there has been extensive research in this field and hence there are different types of the pills available to cater different population. Broadly there are 4 types of birth control pills and besides these are certain injections used for long-term birth control. The 4 types are: 1) Combined pills This type consists of both estrogen and progestin. This is the most common type of pills used today. This is a set of 28 pills to be taken daily. 2) Phased regimen pills Now been used rarely and only for those greater than 35 years of age. 3) Minipill Females who cannot take estrogen for some reason or the other can take this type of pill wherein there is no estrogen. 4) Postcoital or emergency pills This is used to avoid pregnancy in those cases in which the females can become pregnant because of unprotected sexual intercourse. This is to be taken within 3 days of the sexual intercourse.
Effectiveness and other advantages Because of their main action on hormonal changes these pills are much more effective, some studies lay the figures of 10 times, than the traditional methods. There is also more patient compliance as they are not to be used only at the time of the sexual intercourse. Moreover they can be used in crowded home situations.
Side effects They may cause certain side effects such as nausea, weight changes, breakthrough bleeding, blood glucose disturbance, mood swings, hypertension, clot formation in leg and lung veins and some genital carcinomas but the incidence is very less. So a specialist should thoroughly examine the case before being prescribed.
Contraindications They should not be prescribed in subjects having some liver disease, suspected certain gynecological cancers, clotting disease, etc.
Male birth control pills There are also certain male birth control pills available in the market such as gossypol as well as in research stage but both because of the patient non-compliance and because of their less effectiveness and various side effects, they are not as popular as the female birth control pills.